Scores of Bills Introduced to Constrain Executive Branch Use of Tariffs

There have been quite a few pieces of legislation introduced over the Summer in both the House and Senate, with the aim of curbing the President’s authority to unilaterally impose tariffs on our international trading partners. Overall, there are four main avenues in the proposed legislation.  The bills have bipartisan co-sponsorship, in most cases, with a growing number of signatories.

Congressional Approval for Section 232

Most bills (S 3013/HR 6337; S 177/HR 5281; and HR 5760) require the President to submit a proposal to Congress when deciding to take action under Section 232, including justification for the decision.  Congress would then have a certain number of days to pass a joint resolution for the President to be able to move forward.  In other words, if Congress does not pass the resolution, the President COULD NOT move forward with tariffs, tariff rate quotas (TRQs) or quotas.

One bill (HR 2760) includes weaker language that states only if Congress specifically “disapproves” the action can the President be stopped from moving forward.


Some bills include language that the new legislation would apply to all actions dating back two years (S 3013/HR 6337).

Limiting Scope of Section 232

One bill (S 3329) tries to rein in the scope of future Section 232 cases by requiring that the Secretary of Defense, not the Secretary of Commerce conduct the investigation.  Language also limits the scope of the investigation to “defense requirements and national security impact of the goods” and the investigation “shall not consider broader implications”.  Finally, it would expand the congressional role in Section 232 determinations to include congressional disapproval procedures beyond petroleum products (as in current law).

Stalling Automotive Section 232

One bill (S 3266) attempts to stall any Section 232 on the automotive sector by requiring that the action cannot move forward until after the International Trade Commission (ITC) conducts a study on the auto sector.